CVS Continues Its Push Into Digital Health With Accelerator Partnerships


CVS is rapidly expanding its presence in the digital health space, announcing new partnerships this week with digital health accelerators Rock Health and MassChallenge. The new partnerships adds CVS to both accelerators’ lists of industry partners, which will allow startups working within their programs to interact with CVS to vet business plans and pilot new technologies in a real-world setting.  Brian Tilzer, senior vice president and chief digital officer for CVS Health, explains, “We have broad scale and resources; MassChallenge offers a competitive startup accelerator program and Rock Health has an impressive portfolio of market-leading companies. By working collaboratively with each, we can rapidly design and test new ideas.”

The Woonsocket, RI-based retail pharmacy chain has been aggressively pursuing partnerships like this since September 2014, when it pulled tobacco products from its shelves and rebranded itself CVS Health. Initial inroads into the digital health market began even earlier than that decision. In February 2014, CVS announced that it would implement Epic across all of its MinuteClinic locations, and promptly followed that announcement with another just four days later confirming that it had joined industry-led EHR interoperability groups CommonWell and CareQuality. Now fully integrated with the brick-and-mortar healthcare sector, CVS turned its sights toward emerging digital health technologies to begin offering new products and support services to its customers.

In November 2014, CVS opened its Digital Health Innovation Lab in downtown Boston, hiring on a team of 100 programmers and product managers responsible for enhancing existing solutions and integrating new ones into the CVS digital platform. In February 2015, the team announced that it had completely redesigned its mobile app, adding functionality to allow users to request prescription refills, get alerts when medications are ready for pickup, and search for local MinuteClinics as well as confirm that the location accepts the user’s insurance plan.

This summer CVS continued its aggressive push into digital health, announcing a partnership with IBM Watson, which just opened its own headquarters in Cambridge, MA just miles down the road from the CVS Digital Health Innovation Lab. The partnership is focused on developing predictive algorithms to support new chronic disease management initiatives that CVS is working on. The company also announced partnerships with three telehealth vendors, Boston-based American Well, as well as Doctor On Demand and Teladoc. Through these partnerships, CVS is offering customers telehealth visits through its app and website, and is also offering MinuteClinic clinicians access to consults with teleheath physicians to expand the scope of care being offered in the stores.

Now, the company is continuing on its trajectory away from an outdated convenience store business model and fully into the healthcare market with its new partnerships with Rock Health and MassChallenge. The strategic shift has been a good one for CVS; the company has booked record-setting quarterly results for the past two quarters, closing 2015 Q2 with $37.2 billion in net revenue, compared to $34.6 billion in 2014 and $31.2 in 2013.

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